Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education



First Advisor

Neal H. Hutchens

Second Advisor

Kerry B. Melear

Third Advisor

Macey L. Edmondson

Relational Format



The student population of American colleges and universities is becoming increasingly diverse. Though the racial and ethnic makeup of a campus population has been given the most attention in diversity and inclusion efforts, there has been a growing focus on LGBTQ issues in recent decades. As a result, institutions of higher learning have been working to develop responsive policies and programs that aim to promote LGBTQ inclusion amongst faculty, staff, and students.

However, the current socio-political climate in the United States is becoming intensely antagonistic toward gender non-conforming people. With gender identity being such a socially and politically divisive issue, many transgender and non-binary people report feeling unsafe and unsupported in all aspects of their daily lives, including at work. Though non-discrimination policies that cite gender identity as a protected trait go some way toward alleviating discomfort, microaggressions and other forms of discrimination for gender non-conforming people on college campuses, they represent only one dimension of creating welcoming environments for gender non-conforming people, especially if intolerant belief systems or non-inclusive policies and procedures persist.

This exploratory qualitative study examines the effectiveness of non-discrimination policies in protecting transgender and non-binary faculty and staff on college campuses. Through a series of semi-structured interviews, the author obtained data relating to the participants’ perceptions of the efficacy of protective policies in providing job security in their places of employment. Drawing from existing literature and the data provided by the interviews conducted for this study, it becomes apparent that that deeply embedded structural cisgenderism at institutions of higher learning are impacting the effectiveness of inclusion efforts. Training and education will be required for all stakeholders in order to promote a more expansive and equitable view of gender, and administrators must be prepared to lead a shift away from deeply embedded cisgender binary structural biases.


Higher Education



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